Shinichiro Watanabe has made himself a legend in the anime world with a number of projects that have become classics in the medium, with the biggest easily being Cowboy Bebop, the anime series that followed the galactic bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Radical Ed. In a recent interview, Watanabe had the opportunity to talk about a number of different projects in his past, even revealing that the name Cowboy Bebop wasn’t originally going to be the title of the series.
Watanabe touched on a number of topics, including how successful Cowboy Bebop has become since its debut over two decades ago, with the popularity coming as a surprise to the anime director:
“The success of Cowboy Bebop is definitely more than I ever expected though. This was because around that time; anime was not all that popular outside of Japan. Maybe something like Akira was very popular, but that was the exception rather than the rule. So the success of Cowboy Bebop was surprising and I still want to know the reason why. I prefer Western-made movies since my childhood, as in American or European movies rather than Japanese ones. This is because I found Japanese movies to be far too sentimental. So stuff like really over-the-top emotional music for a big climactic scene. In short, Japanese movies tried to make the audience cry. So by contrast I preferred the international approach and I wanted to make something cool. This is one of the reasons I didn’t like Space Battleship Yamato very much; there was too much melodrama.”
See You Space Cowboy
In chatting with the outlet Forbes, Watanabe revealed that Cowboy Bebop was originally going to be called “Shooting Star Bebop”, revealing that it was due to a “trademark conflict” that the original name of the legendary anime series had to be changed:
“In the original plan, it was called Nagareboshi Bepop, or “shooting star” Bebop, but we ended up unable to use that name due to a trademark issue. So we tried the English version of Shooting Star Bebop, and again we got another trademark conflict. So we thought about the story and its focus on bounty hunters, who could be known as “cowboys”, which is how we ended up with the name Cowboy Bebop. Actually, it was Keiko Nobumoto that came up with the idea for calling the bounty hunters “cowboys”. She thought we should use that in the anime’s title. Nobumoto and I shared similar tastes and feelings for things too, so we could communicate very well, even without much in the way of explanation.”
What do you think of Cowboy Bebop’s original title? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and the world of the Bebop.